On Monday, the Tampa Bay Rays will take the field in their first home playoff game in six years while also trying to keep their impressive season alive. The Rays have dropped the first two contests in the best-of-five American League Division Series to the Astros, 6-2 and 3-1, in Houston.
More than 30,000 fans are expected Monday, as the upper deck will be opened for this ballgame, and for Tuesday’s game, should Tampa Bay win this afternoon. For what it’s worth, Tampa Bay ended the regular season by winning 15 of 17 games at the Trop.
Rays skipper Kevin Cash said he doesn’t plan on changing the lineup significantly today, even though Zack Greinke — whom Astros skipper A.J. Hinch is fully confident in — will be on the mound. Houston is 8-2 in games Greinke has started, which includes a 9-8 loss to the Rays at the end of August.
The New What Next
Charlie Morton (16-6, 3.05 ERA), the winning pitcher in the AL Wildcard game, will get the start for the Rays, pitching opposite of Zack Greinke (8-1, 3.02 ERA with Houston, 18-5, 2.93 ERA overall).
Charlie Morton gave up one run (unearned) on five hits and three walks while striking out four across innings to earn the win over the Athletics on Wednesday. Morton threw 94 pitches (56 strikes, 60% strike rate). Morton battled the Athletics but made the important big pitch when necessary, consequently coaxing a pair of inning-ending double plays to shut down the powerful Oakland lineup. Morton is 4-6 with a 6.28 ERA in 11 career starts against his former team, and 3-2 with a 3.96 ERA in seven career postseason starts.
Morton spoke yesterday about facing his former teammates:
We got our backs to the wall a little bit here. So for me to get the opportunity to go out and try to get some quality innings, give our team a chance to win, yeah, I mean, these games are special when a lot’s on the line.
Probably some of the more memorable moments in baseball I’ll ever have are games I’ve pitched in the playoffs. This is a great opportunity for us, show what we’re made of, go out there against a big challenge here and see what we got.— Charlie Morton
Zack Greinke gave up two hits and one walk while striking out nine through 8-1/3 scoreless innings against the Mariners on Wednesday. Greinke took a no-hit bid into the ninth inning before he allowed two singles to end his night. Greinke was dominant, registering 20 swinging strikes without allowing a three-ball count until the fifth inning. Greinke finished the regular season with a 2.93 ERA and 187 strikeouts over 208-2/3 innings. The right-hander is 4-6 with a 3.36 ERA in 14 career starts against Tampa Bay, and 0-0 with a 7.94 ERA in one outing against this season. Key Matchups: Ji-Man Choi (1-2, BB), Travis d’Arnaud (3-7, HR, 3 RBI), Yandy Diaz (1-3)
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
Rays ALDS Game Three Starting Lineup
- Diaz 3B
- Meadows LF
- Pham DH
- Choi 1B
- Garcia RF
- Lowe 2B
- d’Arnaud C
- Kiermaier CF
- Adames SS
— Oh, the memories. Let’s make some new memories today!
— Saturday night was fun even though the outcome was less so. Than you Tampa Bay Rays for putting together such a fun event!
— In the words of Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times), of the 50 teams that lost the first two games of a best-of-five postseason series on the road, only seven came back to win the series, most recently the 2017 Yankees against Cleveland.